OAKLAND, Calif. — Felix Hernandez’s run of three straight starts with a win at O.co Coliseum came to an end on Wednesday in the first game of a doubleheader with the Oakland Athletics.
His invincibility in that stadium also took a bit of a hit. He came into the game 5-0 with a 2.76 earned-run average in his last 10 starts there, but looking nothing like his normal self. But at least his teammates made sure he didn’t take the loss and pulled out a 6-4 extra-inning win.
“I thought he came out with a lot of energy,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He was very determined. It just goes to show you, this is the big leagues. It’s hard to win. It’s hard to get outs. And they had good at-bats against him.”
Hernandez wasn’t as crisp and dominant as his normal outings at O.co. The A’s had plenty of hard contact and base runners. He pitched 61
3 innings, getting banged around for 11 hits and giving up four runs (three unearned). He walked two and struck out none.
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“No strikeouts, not a good breaking ball, not a good change-up,” he said. “That’s what happened. I didn’t have good stuff.”
The only other career start of five innings or more where he failed to record a strikeout came on Aug. 19, 2008, against the White Sox in Chicago. He also gave up 11 hits in that game.
“I’m in shock right now,” he said of the lack of punch outs. “It doesn’t bother me, but it’s shocking to me. It’s not going to happen again.”
But the bigger concern for the Mariners isn’t Wednesday’s start, it’s the string of less-than-stellar starts they’ve received from their ace in the last few weeks. They had lost in his last three starts.
Over the four-game stretch, including Wednesday’s game, Hernandez has pitched 241
3 innings, giving up 28 hits, 16 runs, but only 10 earned runs, for a 3.70 ERA. He’s also walked nine batters with 14 strikeouts. Many pitchers would gladly take those numbers.
“I feel fine,” he said. “I feel fine. The seventh inning I just made a lot mistakes and was in the middle of the plate and gave them pitches to hit.”
Even with the early hits, Hernandez entered that seventh inning with a 3-1 lead and poised to win again.
But a single off his glove to Eric Sogard and a double from Craig Gentry put Hernandez in immediate trouble. James Jones made a brilliant diving catch on Josh Donaldson’s sacrifice fly. McClendon had Joe Beimel and Danny Farquhar warming in the bullpen, but he chose to stay with Hernandez against Brandon Moss. The decision didn’t go as planned. Moss hammered a triple to center to put the A’s up 4-3. That was it for Hernandez. Farquhar was brought in and closed out the inning without any further damage.
A factor could be that this is the third time he’s pitched against Oakland this season.
“They were swinging early,” he said. “I know they are going to be aggressive with me because I attack the strike zone. I just have to make better pitches.”
• With the loss in the nightcap, Erasmo Ramirez is now 0-5 all-time against the A’s with a 4.90 career ERA against them.
• James Paxton and Taijuan Walker are still playing “light catch” of a distance of 60 feet.
• With hits in each game, Robinson Cano now has hits in 28 of the Mariners 33 games this season.